Rape Girl

Rape Girl
By Alina Klein
Published on June 5, 2012
Published by Namelos
Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

Valerie always wanted to be the smart girl. The pretty girl. The popular girl.

But not the rape girl.

That’s who she is now. Rape Girl. Because everyone seems to think they know the truth about what happened with Adam that day, and they don’t think Valerie’s telling it.

Before, she had a best friend, a crush, and a close-knit family. After, she has a court case, a support group, and a house full of strangers.

The real truth is, nothing will ever be the same.

Rape Girl is the compelling story of a survivor who does the right thing and suffers for it. It is also the story of a young woman’s struggle to find the strength to fight back.

My thoughts...

This book grabbed me from the start because of its very bold title.  A lot of authors would probably have shied away from titling a book Rape Girl, but Alina Klein didn't, and I applaud her for not taking an easier, perhaps less controversial route.  The book is obviously about a serious subject, but the author handles it sensitively and with great empathy.

Rape Girl was difficult to read, not because it was graphic -- it's a YA book so little more than kissing is actually depicted -- but because it very plainly shows the aftermath of an assault and the way victims are sadly often blamed for what happened to them, and how the victims themselves internalize that blame.  Valerie's entire life changes after the incident, and she's left adrift by a system that's supposed to be supporting her.   It's shocking and disturbing to see the way people turn on her.  While she has some supportive people in her life -- her mother, a guidance counselor, the people in her support group -- many more are quick to turn their backs on her, blaming her for ruining her attacker's life.  

While the book leads off with the party where Valerie was attacked, I wish that perhaps it had started just a bit earlier so we would have gotten to see Valerie before, to know what she liked, what she was interested in, what she did.  I didn't get much of a sense of who she was, but perhaps that's part of the point: everything she'd ever done or liked or accomplished beforehand was erased in the eyes of many, replaced instead with rumors and accusations about her.  

The book really explores and challenges the expectations stereotypes that people may have about assault.  More women are assaulted by someone they know than by the Law & Order-type criminal skulking in dark alleyways.  I think this is an important book to read, perhaps as a discussion starter with your teenaged child, or a teenager in your life.  

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